Saturday, June 28, 2014

REVIEW: Third Rail by Rory Flynn

At crime scenes, Eddy Harkness is a human Ouija board, a brilliant young detective with a knack for finding the hidden something—cash, drugs, guns, bodies. But Eddy’s swift rise in an elite narcotics unit is derailed by the death of a Red Sox fan in the chaos of a World Series win, a death some camera-phone-wielding witnesses believe he could have prevented. Scapegoated, Eddy is exiled to his hometown just outside Boston, where he empties parking meters and struggles to redeem his disgraced family name.

Then one night Harkness’s police-issue Glock disappears. Unable to report the theft, Harkness starts a secret search—just as a string of fatal accidents lead him to uncover a new, dangerous smart drug, Third Rail. With only a plastic disc gun to protect him, Harkness begins a high-stakes investigation that leads him into the darkest corners of the city, where politicians and criminals intertwine to deadly effect.

With a textured sense of place, a nuanced protagonist, and a story that takes off from page one and culminates in a startling finale, Third Rail has all the elements of a breakout mystery success.


GOD this book was entertaining. Before I checked the stats for Third Rail, I was under the impression that there was a whole slew of Eddy Harkness novels prior to this one. You can imagine my disappointment when I realized that I was actually reading Rory Flynn's debut. And WHAT.A.DEBUT it was. Third Rail was varying shades of fantastic, and just the kind of read that can quench a thirst you didn't even know you had. Crime fiction is the distant cousin I keep forgetting I have, but when we're reunited, I remember EXACTLY why I loved being around them so much. Third Rail was crime fiction at it's best, and the beginning of my rekindled love affair with it's genre.

There's a new drug on the streets, and it's revealing itself in some seriously twisted ways. Eddy Harkness is a big shot supervisor of a narcotics unit, turned small town cop. The small town is Nagog, and with a whole slew of sketchy characters, and a missing/stolen gun to boot, Eddy Harkness definitely has his work cut out for him. In the depths, Eddy is stewing in guilt from an incident he failed to be the hero of, a guilt that works itself into both the silent, and loud, moments of Eddy's mind, a guilt that seeps into the narrative at every chance it gets. 

Eddy Harkness. Snarky, ballsy, guilt-ridden Eddy. I kept switching back and forth between my established love for Hank Palace in The Last Policeman series, and my newly forming attachment to Eddy. It was the one in a million feeling they produced, that everything they were accomplishing could only be done by them, and them alone. Eddy Harkness was ruthless, but not in the out-of-control way, but in that completely controlled "OKAY, THAT WAS BADASS" kind of way. Think Denzel Washington, in pretty much every cop movie he's ever made. Yes, Eddy Harkness, you can stay, for a very long time.

It may have been the mood I was in, but I found little to zero flaws in Rory Flynn's writing. I thought he was subtle when it mattered, and completely in-your-face when you least expected it. His characters were full of dry wit, and humorous dialogue. The story line was not seriously fast-paced, but it was one that left you with VERY little chance of becoming bored. There wasn't a chapter in this book I didn't enjoy and not a single person I didn't suspect of doing the crime. The conclusion wasn't in the category of mind-blowing, but I'm becoming repetitive now: the pleasure was in the build-up, in the drawing out of a story that Rory Flynn obviously put some serious thought into.

There will be prayers to the literary Gods for a LARGE number of Eddy Harkness books. Please let this be a possible 10-15 book series!       

Recommended for fans of: Crime Fiction, Contemporary, Linwood Barclay, Harlan Coben, Ben H. Winters, The Last Policeman series.



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